Chapter 1

Striving For Sustained Performance Improvement

What drives continuous performance improvement?


“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” MICHELANGELO

Key chapter points

  • What to consider when trying to close a ‘performance gap’
  • Who, aside from the individual, has the greatest influence on a ‘performance gap’ or ‘performance potential’
  • What the performance coach can do to create an environment where an individual’s performance can prosper

In this chapter we consider three areas that impact performance, placing performance coaching in a business context.

In the next chapter we take a detailed look at Procoach, Prosell’s approach to performance improvement. We explain how it works and why it has such an impact on an individual’s ability to improve their performance.

1. Components that define individual performance

During our journey we sought to understand what influences an individual’s performance. We identified three internal components:

Behavioural Mindset Activity Pie Chart

These components impact performance individually and collectively

Mindset Why we do something and our commitment to doing it.

Behavioural skills How well we do something.

Activity levels How often we do something.

2. The greatest external influences for reducing a performance gap

Naturally individuals do not work in isolation. Other influences affect performance such as resources available i.e. the tools for the job, time and budget.

We have based our conclusions about which have the greatest external impact by referencing research and our own 30 years of business experiences. We have found that line managers have the biggest influence on someone’s motivation and performance levels.

You’ll find brief details about this research, carried out by the Sales Executive Council, Prosell’s own research and Service Profit Chain, at the end of this book.

3. Important beliefs and actions for a performance coach

An effective performance coach creates an environment in which an individual’s performance can prosper. Their ability to do this depends on their actions and beliefs.

Procoach helps managers to become world class performance coaches. We see their role as:

“Maximising the performance of an individual, by helping them explore, challenge and develop their skill and commitment levels.”

We achieve this through awareness, practice and feedback in the workplace.

Our question

What can performance coaches do in order to deliver continuous performance improvement?

We will answer this question in detail in the next chapter when we complete our summary of Procoach.

First we introduce you to David, a line manager and Emma, his new team member. They will be taking this journey with you.

Case Study

Emma joins David’s team:

Emma has been working in David’s team for two weeks.

She has already noticed that David and the rest of the team communicate in a different way, compared to her previous experiences.

In particular she has noted that:

  1. She has already discussed her role with David and is clear about her contribution to the team and how they collectively support the
  1. David and the team acknowledge exceptional work. Only yesterday David made a point of congratulating a colleague, Tony for his thorough analysis of a competitor’s products.
  1. David encourages and listens to ideas put forward by the team. Emma understands that he’s adopted many of their ideas in the past.
  1. Regular one-to-one meetings take place with David. She is due to discuss the highs and lows of her first two weeks, the next

Emma concludes that David and the team work well together and everyone in the team is prepared to go the extra mile, because they feel valued.

Chapter check

What have you learnt from this chapter?

Check your knowledge by answering these questions:

Self-assessment questions

  1. Which three internal components have we identified, that influence an individual’s performance?
  2. Who represents the greatest external influence on an individual’s performance?
  3. What does a performance coach need to do to help performance prosper?

Chapter 1 – Summary & Actions

In this chapter we examined the:

  • Influences affecting individual performance
  • Components that determine an individual’s performance
  • The greatest external influence on
  • Role of the performance coach in improving individual performance

Your action plan

Consider the actions you will take to encourage performance improvement in your team, department or company.

Ask yourself:

  • How am I currently encouraging and supporting performance improvement in your team?
  • How does my team rate in terms of their desire and skills to support performance improvement?
  • What management structure and processes are in place to encourage a performance coaching climate?

Make a note of any aspects that you feel you can improve. Then plan how to make a start on the areas you have identified. Finally, read the following case study about Emma’s progress before moving onto the next chapter.

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